Artist
Ed Ruscha
American artist and photographer

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Ed Ruscha
American artist and photographer

Birth Date

December 16, 1937

Contributor

Pro tip: pronounce Ed Ruscha's last name right (roo-SHAY) and declare yourself an art insider.

Just an Omaha boy with California dreams, Ruscha moved to LA in the early '60s to attend Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts). He and one-day musician and comedy writer Mason Williams road tripped to LA together from Nebraska. At the time, Chouinard was heavily funded by Walt Disney, who recruited many of its grads to animate for his studios. In fact, Ruscha only got his father’s blessing to attend art school because of the likelihood of becoming a successful commercial artist--forget about gallery shows with Jim Dine and Andy Warhol.

Ruscha loves LA, and has lived there throughout its rise from tinseltown to art mecca. You’d think 1960s Hollywood would have been full of art collectors, but no, that wasn’t always the case. Ruscha and other big-name artists, including the guys mentioned above, had small shows together until their careers launched and the LA art world as we now know it was born. His work reflects the vibe of the city, taking graphic queues from film, advertising kitsch and the “heroic imagery” of americana.

Although a quiet dude, Ruscha developed a reputation as a ladies’ man (he was pretty dreamy in his younger days). His ex-girlfriends include models Lauren Hutton, Léon Bing, and movie star Samantha Eggar. In the end, Ruscha got back together with his first wife and baby momma in the late eighties, after nearly sixteen years apart.

Although it’s not true of all of his work, Ruscha was sometimes known for alarming material experimentation. He’s painted and printed with such unlikely substances as blood, caviar, and Pepto Bismol. 

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Edward Ruscha

Edward Joseph Ruscha IV (/rˈʃ/, roo-SHAY; born December 16, 1937) is an American artist associated with the pop art movement. He has worked in the media of painting, printmaking, drawing, photography, and film. Ruscha lives and works in Culver City, California.

Early life and education

Ruscha was born into a Roman Catholic family in Omaha, Nebraska, with an older sister, Shelby, and a younger brother, Paul. Edward Ruscha, Sr. was an auditor for Hartford Insurance Company. Ruscha's mother was supportive of her son's early signs of artistic skill and interests. Young Ruscha was attracted to cartooning and would sustain this interest throughout his adolescent years. Though born in Nebraska, Ruscha lived some 15 years in Oklahoma City before moving to Los Angeles in 1956 where he studied at the Chouinard Art Institute (now known as the California Institute of the Arts) under Robert Irwin and Emerson Woelffer from 1956 through 1960. While at Chouinard, Ruscha edited and produced the journal "Orb" (1959–60) together with Joe Goode, Emerson Woelffer, Stephan von Huene, Jerry McMillan, and others. Ruscha spent much of the summer of 1961 traveling through Europe. After graduation, Ruscha took a job as a layout artist for the Carson-Roberts Advertising Agency in Los Angeles.

By the early 1960s he was well known for his paintings, collages, and photographs, and for his association with the Ferus Gallery group, which also included artists Robert Irwin, John Altoon, John McCracken, Larry Bell, Ken Price, and Edward Kienholz. He worked as layout designer for Artforum magazine under the pseudonym “Eddie Russia” from 1965 to 1969 and taught at UCLA as a visiting professor for printing and drawing in 1969. He is also a lifelong friend of guitarist Mason Williams.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Edward Ruscha.